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Mall's signage request sent back to Plan Commission

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

STERLING – A petition by Northland Mall to amend the city sign code for new mall tenant Dunham's Sports was again sent back to the Plan Commission.

The council voted 6-0 Tuesday to send the request to the commission that on Aug. 21 recommended it be denied. At its Aug. 4 meeting, the council voted to send the petition back to the commission for further study.

Dunham's, in its lease agreement with the mall, made wall space next to The Spot restaurant its preferred choice for displaying its name.

Under city code, the only mall tenants allowed to display signage on the building's exterior walls are anchor stores that have a separate entrance and exit leading outdoors. Because Dunham's has no front door, the petition requests that anchor stores with square footage in excess of 45,000 square feet be allowed to put up the exterior signs.

At the Aug. 21 meeting, city consultant Dustin Wolff said city staff was not supportive of the change as proposed when two other options exist within the parameters of the code. Wolff also expressed concern that the amendment would apply to businesses throughout the city, not just Northland Mall tenants.

A request from the company prompted the decision for the commission to revisit the matter.

"The mall contacted us and requested the petition be referred back to the Plan Commission so someone from the company can be present," City Manager Scott Shumard said.

Alderman John Stauter, who attended the last commission meeting, said he believed that the commissioners made a good-faith effort to cooperate with Karyn Brouilette, the mall's general manager, and a Dunham's liaison.

"I felt like the commission tried to work with them, but when the commission asked them questions, they had no answers," Stauter said. "Maybe they'll have some answers this time around."

Alderman Lou Sotelo echoed that sentiment.

"We want to project to corporate people that they were given every opportunity to present their case," he said. "Hopefully, they will provide more substance when it goes back to the commission."

The next Plan Commission meeting will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 18 in council chambers.

In other action, the council adopted language governing medical marijuana cultivation centers and dispensaries. The only differences from state statute were language that says a dispensary must be 500 feet from a residential district, and the city's requirement that dispensaries and cultivation centers receive a special use designation.

Also, a petition from the Caring Center to convert 10 3-hour parking spaces at the south side of Second Street was denied. The council instead approved making the spaces permit parking at a rate of $15 a quarter, a reduction from the standard quarterly cost of $30.

Next meeting

The Sterling City Council next meets at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 15, at City Hall, 212 Third Ave., on the first floor in the Council Chambers.

Go to www.sterling-il.gov/ or call City Hall at 815-632-6621 for an agenda or more information.

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